Missing Air Raid Sirens
Today marks the beginning of month 9 of Russia’s war of terror against Ukraine. In a number of ways, month 8 of the war was the strangest month for me. This is due to the fact that I spent most of it outside Ukraine—my first trip out that lasted more than 24 hrs. I was traveling for meetings with City to City Europe as well as running our European Church Planting Intensive in Rome.
It was an odd thing to not hear air raid sirens for a whole month. I’ve gotten so used to them that it felt abnormally quiet. I even found myself missing the sound—until I returned home and remembered how annoying they are. While out of Ukraine, I found myself craning my head to look up every time I heard a fighter jet or helicopter fly nearby, only to then remind myself that the country I was in was not at war and it’s not a noise to be concerned about.
The hardest part of being out of the country was the day that Russia decided to rain down rockets across Ukraine, targeting our heating and energy infrastructure. I received a text from my wife that morning saying that there were massive strikes across the country. Needless to say, it was very difficult to go on leading a training for church planters in light of this type of news. I was grateful to the planters and other trainers that we all stopped for a moment and prayed for Ukraine and my family. Thanks to those of you who were praying for them while I was traveling as well!
On the bright side, the two weeks spent with church planters from across Europe were a great privilege (pictured above). We had planters from all across Europe—from Edinburgh to Tel Aviv—whom I had the joy of getting to know. It was very encouraging to see them grow deeper in the Gospel and think through how to contextualize ministry for their cities. Now comes the challenge of taking everything they received there and putting it into practice in their cities. Pray for God’s grace and a move of His Spirit as they seek to do this.
Ministry here in Svitlovodsk, I’m happy to say, continued on without me. Our church continued to feed thousands of refugees in our city and share the hope of Christ with them, as well as with those living in our church. One woman staying in our church, Valya, (pictured below left, middle of pic) is among the latest to put their faith in Christ during this time. She was excited to get a Bible with large print as she has trouble with her vision. She and her son will likely be traveling on further west soon, but now Valya will be going with the hope that she is not alone.
Besides this, our Jr. High group that consists of many of the refugee kids who came to faith during our summer camps is really doing well (pictured below right). It’s a blessing to see these kids turn up week after week (multiple times a week, in fact!) and continue to grow in Christ. I’m particularly grateful for the young leaders that God has raised up in our church to lead this group.
One of them, Misha, has also begun preaching on Sundays! This is an answer to a longstanding prayer. Ever since my previous associate pastor left to plant in the summer of 2021, I’ve been the only local person preaching, which meant inviting a lot of guest preachers when I had to travel. I’m very encouraged to see Misha step out and grow in his abilities as a preacher. Pray for him as well in this.
Many of you have likely seen the ramped up activity from the Russian terrorists lately: from targeting our heating and light infrastructure to hooking blast charges to one of our hydroelectric damns to talk about a dirty bomb (they often accuse others of things they are plotting to do themselves). Our city was also without lights for a few hours a couple days ago due to their attacks.
And nevertheless, I am glad to be home and in the midst of what God is doing to bring the Gospel to the people of Ukraine in these hard times. Please pray that God would put a swift end to the demonic Kremlin forces and be glorified in answering the prayers of His people for justice.
We are so grateful for those of you who continue to partner with us in prayer, words of encouragement and in generous donations to continue bringing hope to the people of Ukraine in this time. It is a remind that, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (Jn. 1:5) Thank you for reflecting the light of Christ. You can make a donation using the button below.